This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
Richardson refers to some cases of tetanus, under Sir J. Paget, much relieved by oxygen-inhalation; the patients became bathed in perspiration, and the muscles relaxed. He insists also on its importance in strychnia-poisoning in conjunction with amyl nitrite, as unless elimination be promoted by oxygen, the spasm, even if relieved, soon returns. "Oxygen is a remedy for all excess of nerve-action leading to spasm" (cf. p. 12).
M. Demarquay obtained his oxygen from chlorate of potash, and made use of caoutchouc bags, which were filled with the washed gas and could be carried to the patient's bedside. M. Limousin has introduced a small portable apparatus with brass retort, wash-bottle, and caoutchouc bag, so that the gas can be prepared and used on the spot; but in this country the most available method is that of Mr. Barth, of Bloomsbury: he supplies a small gasometer, with the gas condensed under high pressure into iron bottles, from which a measured quantity can be introduced and mixed in definite proportion with air, and then inhaled in the usual way. This method leaves nothing to be desired. The patient should be quiet for a time before and after inhalations, and not be over-fatigued; the stomach should be neither full nor quite empty; the feet should be warm, and the circulation equable. Other modes have been devised for introducing oxygen into the system, as by oxygenated water and oxygenated bread, but I have no confidence in these preparations. A method still open to investigation is the administration of peroxides, especially those of hydrogen and of iron, and of chlorate or permanganate of potash (v. Potash); and some experiments of C. Bernard warrant the conclusion that these compounds give up to the blood a proportion of their oxygen, and are eliminated in a less oxidized condition.
I have not met with any case wherein oxygen, more or less diluted, was indicated, and could not be safely used. If organic heart disease be present, care should be taken to regulate the force and the effort of inhaling, which sometimes gives rise to giddiness or palpitation independent of the remedy. Some soreness of the throat, and temporary discomfort about the mouth, may occur if the apparatus be not quite free from dust; but from the gas I have seen no bad results whatever. The contra-indications to the use of compressed air are degeneration of vessels and an apoplectic tendency; to that of rarefied air, pulmonary hemorrhage.